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shopping, making choices August 26 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Jeremiah 43-44;
Psalms 71, 116

Wrong Choices Can Hurt

In our American society we are bombarded with choices – choices of clothing, food, entertainment, opportunities, and a myriad of other things. Most choices do not hurt us but some do. Each of us has a very important choice to make in our lives: Will we follow the LORD or walk in our own ways? The remnants of Judah also had a choice to make: would they flee possible reprisals from their enemies, or would they believe the LORD and find protection from him?

After Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C., Babylon put a governor in the land of Judah, Gedaliah by name, to rule the small vassal nation. This brought peace to the land. The remnants of Judah, who fled when Babylon attacked Jerusalem, including the Jewish army, gained confidence to return. Gedaliah exonerated the soldiers for their offenses, realizing they were only following the orders of their deposed king, Zedekiah. Some of the refugees from war fled to other friendly nations. Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, who was of royal blood was one of them. He and ten other men staged a coup against Gedaliah. They ate a meal with Gedaliah in Mizpah of Judah. There they assassinated Gedaliah, killed his soldiers, and kidnapped the people of Mizpah (the new capital of Judah after Jerusalem was destroyed). When the rest of the Jewish army in Mizpah found out about that, they formed a posse and chased Ishmael. They recovered all of the residents of Mizpah and killed two of Ishmael’s men before Ishmael and the rest of his band escaped. They feared reprisals from Babylon, however, because Gedaliah was killed, so they chose to flee to Egypt. To confirm the wisdom of their plans and get God’s blessing, they asked Jeremiah to inquire of the LORD for them. The answer was not what they were expecting or wanting. God told them to stay in the land and He would protect them. Egypt was not a place of safety. Though she was strong, Babylon would soon come and destroy her. The leaders of Judah called Jeremiah a liar. In disobedience to God’s command, they continued on with their plan and even took Jeremiah with them. Perhaps they thought that God would not destroy them if they had his prophet for security. Poor Jeremiah; he was old then and he received no respect. How did Jeremiah feel and what did Jeremiah do?

Psalms 71 and 116 have no titles or superscriptions to give us clues as to who wrote them, but since they describe an older person late in life and all the struggles he had to overcome, they fit well into the context of Jeremiah’s life at this time. Perhaps they were even authored by Jeremiah. These psalms express the emotions of Jeremiah and what he probably did. In these psalms the author called upon God for his protection as he continued to proclaim God’s messages of admonition and judgment. This was what Jeremiah must have done. Jeremiah had already been put in stocks, jailed, put into a muddy well, and carried off into exile before he was allowed to return. Now he was taken to Egypt.

What did God say to his obstinate people? Since they were relying on the gods of Egypt and swearing by them, Jeremiah proclaimed this message (44:26-28),

But hear the word of the LORD, all Jews living in Egypt: “I swear by my great name,” says the LORD, “that no one from Judah living anywhere in Egypt will ever again invoke my name or swear, ‘As surely as the Sovereign LORD lives.’ For I am watching over them for harm, not for good; the Jews in Egypt will perish by sword and famine until they are all destroyed. Those who escape the sword and return to the land of Judah from Egypt will be very few. Then the whole remnant of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word will stand-- mine or theirs.”

What a strong message of judgment! This message was even confirmed by a sign; Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt would soon be killed by his enemies. Still, the Jews would not listen.

What would we do if we were in Jeremiah’s shoes? The temptation would be to quit, to stop giving forth God’s message, and to let the people do whatever they wanted. We would be grieved over the demise of our nation, but we would be tired and weary of fighting against people’s opinions. But perhaps God does not want us to do that.

Lessons to live by:

  • Do not be obstinate. Listen to the LORD and do what He says; He has your best interests in mind. Follow God’s Word even when your own counsel seems better. God will never lead you astray.
  • God never called Jeremiah to succeed in his ministry. He required faithfulness. And, for us who have a personal relationship with God, he requires the same thing: faithfulness. Let us then leave the success of our ministry to the LORD. Let us be like Jeremiah and persevere, even when we are old and gray. Let us only be faithful to the tasks God has given us. Do you have a personal relationship with the LORD? He can give you forgiveness, peace, spiritual life and his favor (more...).
  • Wrong choices can hurt or even destroy; therefore be courageous to follow the LORD.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (NIV)

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